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Born in 1958 in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Yuji Wakiya began his career in 1973 at the Sanno Restaurant in Akasaka then gained experience at various establishments such as the Tokyo Hilton Hotel and the Capitol Tokyu Hotel. At 27, he worked as Head Chef at a metropolitan hotel and became Executive Chef at the same hotel in 1992. As Managing Director & Executive Chef at Turandot, he has orchestrated openings in Yokohama, Akasaka, and Roppongi since 1996. In 1997, Yuji became the Executive Chef of Chinese cuisine at the Pan Pacific Hotel and in 1998, was appointed Head Chef to the Crown Prince and Princess at the same hotel. In 2001, he opened Wakiya in Akasaka and assumed the position of Owner Chef. Currently, he is the owner of Turandot of Yokohama & Akasaka Tokyo, Wakiya of Akasaka Tokyo. Yuji participated in the “Madrid Fusion 2005” in Madrid, Spain and also participated in the “World Gourmet Summit” in Singapore.
Yuji created a new genre of Chinese cuisine that is best described as 'traditional and creative’. The common Chinese custom of serving food in large portions makes it difficult for small parties to enjoy a wide variety of dishes. When Yuji became Head Chef at 27, he wanted to address this problem so that one customer dining alone would be able to enjoy a well-portioned Chinese meal from the appetizer to the dessert. Thus, the original idea of serving dishes course by course in portions fit for an individual customer.
Today, in addition to his restaurants, Yuji makes appearances on NHK cooking shows and speaks regularly at culinary schools. Also, a connoisseur in Chinese tea, Yuji strives to share the joy of tea-drinking through various forms of media. Yuji is the author of 14 culinary books.